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Council Majority Favors Budget Deal, June 10 Eyed for Vote

By JAMES R. RIFFEL

City News Service

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - With City Council members backing five-year agreements with the city of San Diego's employee unions, council President Todd Gloria today tentatively scheduled a June 10 vote on the pact.

The tentative deals, announced Tuesday, would gradually restore most of a 6 percent pay cut to employees, in effect since 2009, by reducing furlough days and lowering health care costs.

The agreements still need ratification by the rank-and-file of six labor groups, after which council members would vote on final adoption. They gave the deals an initial go-ahead in a unanimous closed-session vote, city officials said.

Gloria immediately praised the tentative agreements soon after they were announced.

``Reaching this tentative deal is another demonstration of the collaborative mindset of the San Diego City Council,'' Gloria said. ``Too often, labor negotiations are seen as partisan battles. This city council continues to put policy above politics, and the results benefit our citizens, our employees, and taxpayers.''

Most city employees would see their take-home pay rise by 1.75 percent in each of the first three years.

The pay levels have not been set for the final two years, giving five of the unions a chance to reopen negotiations on that part of the agreement while hoping the city's fiscal condition continues to improve.

Public safety employees would receive higher pay increases in the first year -- 2.25 percent for firefighters and lifeguards, and 2 percent for police officers. The San Diego Police Officers Association opted to take 1 percent raises in the fourth and fifth years of the agreement instead of reopening talks.

``I ask our employees to ratify the agreement negotiated with the leaders of your organizations so we can all continue to work together to move San Diego forward,'' Gloria said.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer said the ``landmark'' deals begin to ``responsibly restore compensation cuts.''

Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman and Lorie Zapf will vote to adopt the deals as currently structured, the council members' aides told City News Service.

Councilman David Alvarez said he was in favor at Tuesday's news conference.

The office of Councilwoman Marti Emerald did not respond to an inquiry into her stance.

The city's general fund, which pays for basic services like public safety and libraries, will save $20 million in each of the next two fiscal years if the agreements are approved, according to Mayor Bob Filner.

He said about half would go toward restoring the pay cuts. The mayor's budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1 used some one-time revenue to pay for ongoing expenses and shorted a liability fund, issues that would be fixed with much of the rest of the savings, he said.

According to Gloria's office, the council vote could get placed on a supplemental agenda or get put off to a later date if there are delays in union ratification.

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